No picture of Latin American poker, in general, or the LAPT in particular would ever be complete without several Brazilian figures sprinkled liberally across it. It’s hard to understate Brazil’s impact on the development of the game in this part of the world. In many ways, Brazilians are Latin American poker. With a population of roughly 200 million people, about two-thirds the population of the United States, Brazil is as big as the rest of South America combined. As all those people have played online poker across the years, they’ve developed some impressive players.
Today I’ve already mentioned the reigning Brazilian Series of Poker Player of the Year, Leonardo Martins. Martins, a guy who’s been crushing the live game for years, recently started playing more online events. He ran away with the 2012 BSOP Player of the Year race, dethroning 2011 BSOP Player of the Year, Flavio Reis. Reis is seated three tables away from Martins here on Day 1b. Martins hasn’t gained much traction yet – he’s got 20,000 – but Reis is cruising with about 55,000.
Near the center of the room is Ariel Celestino, a man dubbed “an online monster” by my colleague Sergio Prado. Sergio wasn’t kidding. Celestino has cashed for more than $2.1 million lifetime on PokerStars and Full Tilt and currently holds the record for largest online tournament prize ever won by a Brazilian for the $346,696 he earned as winner of the first post-Black Friday FTOPS Main Event. He also has a SCOOP victory and a WCOOP Second Chance title to his name. Celestino has double the average stack right now with about 44,000 in chips.
Affif Prado is one of the Brazilians whose number has been called in this space quite recently. At the 2013 PCA, Prado won the “mini Main Event” – a $300 side event that uses the same structure as the $10,000 PCA Main Event. Prado was best among 216 players, earning $16,000 in the process. Unfortunately, he’s already done here in Viña del Mar. He busted as the tournament approached the second break and failed to re-enter before late registration closed.
Last but not least is a player who, like many famous Brazilians, is known by simply one name – Akkari. When you see Team PokerStars Pro Andre Akkari at an LAPT event, he seems to be friends with every Brazilian in the room. The man oozes charisma and backs it up with an enviable tournament resume – one World Series of Poker bracelet winner ($1,500 NLHE in 2011 for $675,000) and more than $2.5 million in tournament winnings on PokerStars. Today Akkari is seated at the “TV table”, a non-hole-cards live stream being produced by TVPokerPro, a company Akkari helped start. At last check he had about 60,000 in his stack.
Five Brazilian poker champions, four of whom currently have more chips than the starting stack of 15,000. At this stage of the tournament, Brazil will probably take that and be happy with it. The country always sends scores of players to LAPT events; their camaraderie makes for especially entertaining final tables. If any of these four make the LAPT6 Chile final table, watch out. They’re liable to blow the roof off the Casino Municipal del Viña del Mar.
Dave Behr is a freelance contributor to the PokerStars Blog.
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